The UTEP Miners (6-6) and the Colorado St. Rams (7-4) square off in the opening round of the Sun Bowl Invitational Tournament at 7:00 p.m. MT in the Don Haskins Center. The Miners are coming off a strong showing in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, winning two of three games and taking home 3rd place. The Rams have won two in a row over Texas Southern and Northern Colorado since falling to Duke at Cameron Indoor on December 7th.
The Miners and the Rams have a long history that dates back to the days of the old WAC. The Miners lead the all time series 46-24, including a 27-6 advantage in games played in El Paso. However, Colorado St. has taken the last two meetings in El Paso in the 95-96 and 97-98 seasons. The last time the teams two teams met was on February 5th 1998, a 64-58 victory for the Rams in the Special Events Center.Wes Eikmeier
The Miners are led by senior F Gabriel McCulley who averages 10.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, but guys like Mike Perez, Julian Washburn, Cedrick Lang, and John Bohannon have also played key roles this season. Perez has averaged 12.4 points per game and has consistently been the leading scorer for the Miners. Washburn, a freshman with loads of talent, is averaging 10.3 points per game, while Lang, another freshman, is averaging 7.1 points and 5 rebounds a game. Bohannon, a sophomore, has been a little inconsistent on the season, but is coming off a 20 point, 9 rebound effort against Auburn, and is now averaging 8.3 points and 5.7 rebounds a game.
After seeing the strides that the Miners have made over the last 7 games, one would have to assume that they are the outright favorites to win the Sun Bowl Invitational title. It is a little unusual for the Miners to face the other "highlight" team of the tournament in the opening round, but the Miners should be game enough to win this one in front of what should be a decent home crowd. Immediately following the UTEP game, will be the second contest between Arkansas Pine-Bluff and Jacksonville St. The losers will meet tomorrow in the consolation game, with the winners facing off for the title immediately after that. Go Miners!!!
Who wins tonight's game?
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